My Juice Feast: The Aftermath

Saturday, May 19, 2012

It has been four months since I ended my 19-day juice fast/feast and I guess I'm finally ready to give my impressions of how I feel about having done it, and whether or not I would do it again.

Ending the fast was difficult. Although I thought I was prepared with plenty of good recipes for eating the way I wanted to go forward (which was mainly a high-raw, vegan diet), I found that this did not seem to work well for my body.  Although I thought I ended the fast gently and with wise food choices, my digestive system was a wreck.  Everything I ate, no matter how mild, how small a portion, or how healthy it was, gave me abdominal discomfort, gas (nice!), and general digestive and elimination misery.  I had expected a small amount of transition time, but nothing that I had read (including an entire book on juice fasting, and many web sites, and being in a support group) prepared me for anything like this.  It went on and on and on and on for days, weeks, and then well past the one month mark.  It was uncomfortable, embarrassing, and frustrating.  Eventually I decided to branch out of the "perfect" things I was eating, to see if other items could soothe my tummy.

Part of what I wanted to see with the juice fast was if I would notice any difference in my health/energy/body while cutting out so many non-beneficial items, plus some questionable ones.  I was particularly interested in seeing if I could pinpoint any adverse reactions to grains (and mainly wheat) because of a book that I had read which basically vilified wheat and all grains.  I was curious if what the author had to say would ring true for me.  (and if possibly I might learn something important that would be beneficial for my health)

For me, I did not experience any amazing energy, mental clarity, or general extraordinary wonderfulness either during my fast or after it.  When I eventually tried eating a little bread, I found that my tumultuous stomach calmed down a bit, which was a better reaction than I had experienced with anything else I had eaten since exiting the fast.  I didn't experience any adverse reactions that I could identify, and so wheat and brown rice and oatmeal have continued to be a regular part of my diet ever since.

It was really amazing and kind of disheartening to see that even a full two months after ending the fast, my stomach was still really "off."  Having never had problems with digestion, gas, bloating, etc., it really stunk (ha.  excuse the pun.) that this was my reward for all of my hard work and determination to do a juice fast.

I went to see a naturopath to discuss my health, my reasons for doing the juice fast, how my body was refusing to let go of fat even though I would eat no sugar, etc. etc. etc., and the way that despite all of my biggest and bestest efforts in eating healthfully, I still felt so so weary all the time.  She mentioned that in the case of a juice fast, when smooth digestion is interrupted in that way, it can take a long time for it to get back to being running well.  Certainly this has been true in my case.  I also found out that I apparently have some serious thyroid and adrenal issues that are probably the real cause of my low level of energy and the great difficulty with managing my weight successfully.  Juice fasting and healthy eating alone will not fix these problems for me.  Thankfully there are some supplements and other things that I can do to help my body heal and go forward.  I'm working on it.  (It is very humbling to be an overweight health and wellness educator!  And it is very difficult to be a wife, mom, home educator, and business owner when you feel like you are running on empty almost all the time.)

Here we are at approximately the 4-month mark and my stomach issues are still not fully resolved, though slowly things are improving.  Between what seems to work for my stomach, and what seems to work for my life, my diet now is vegetarian, with a large percentage of what I eat being veggies and fruits.  I do not want to eat meat and I do not find it difficult to go without it.  Although I do keep dairy products to a smaller amount, I am eating them for now.  Ideally I would prefer not to, but ideals are not serving me well these days, and so I am continuing to humbly walk along, open to learn, and giving myself permission to live without pressure to be perfect.

For me, I do not think I would be willing to do a juice fast again, unless I thought it was necessary as a matter of life and death.  19 days of hard work and sacrifice has turned into months of discomfort and embarrassment that I would not want to repeat ever.  I do think that juicing can be a great thing for the body, and I think that eating well and including fresh fruit and veggie juices is a great idea.  If your health is in really dire straights, it may be that a long juice fast is the right answer for you.  In my case, I do not believe it was overly beneficial.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experience! I have found that large amounts of fresh raw veggies don't agree with my digestive system. I hope you find the right balance that works for you! -Jamie